Macau looks to stimulate casinos, hotels and its economy

man holding money

The Macau government is providing a stimulus package to its residents in a bid to boost the gambling enclave’s stagnant economy.

Casino.org reports that a US$1250 stimulus package will be received by permanent residents.

Non-permanent residents will receive US$750.

The relief doesn’t end there, with Macau also issuing electronic vouchers to all results.

Each adult, as well as university students, will receive US$75 to be used anywhere on the peninsula.

“This round of stimulus package demands a combined effort of the government and society in a bid to generate more efficient and lasting cycled economic benefits in Macau,” Lei Wai Nong, Macau’s secretary for economy and finance said.

Macau residents can receive additional e-vouchers if they spend their initial $75 within 15 days of receipt and are eligible for up to five coupons.

Macau’s economic prosperity relies heavily on its gaming and hospitality industries, with the region’s six licensed commercial casino operators generating about 90 per cent of the region’s annual tax revenue.

But with visitor numbers still low, Macau is asking its own people to get out and spend.

The government is additionally providing relief for numerous businesses and industries.

For the casino sector, Macau is waiving a five per cent tourist tax on its hotel income.

The relief runs until the end of 2021, with locals who stay at a hotel during that time also credited US$25 by the government.

While a $25 credit might not seem like a strong incentive for a Macau resident to stay overnight at one of the region’s hotels, with foreign travel remaining at a standstill, room rates are cheap.

A midweek stay at City of Dreams, Studio City, Sofitel and Sheraton are all under $70 a night.

Macau is also using this time to encourage locals to further their education with a US$625 subsidy upon completion of certain programs and courses.

Macau scraps casino coronavirus test certificates

scientist looking through a microscope

A coronavirus test certificate is no longer required to enter Macau casinos, GGR Asia reported in early March.

From midnight, March 3, people wishing to enter Macau casino floors will no longer need to show a test certificate proving they are free of COVID-19 infection.

The rule where all individuals from mainland China arriving in Macau must have a negative nucleic acid test report issued within seven days of arrival, stays in place, authorities said.

A number of investment analysts had suggested that the COVID-19 test requirement for entry to Macau itself and the duration of the test certificate validity was an inhibiting factor for would-be tourists to Macau from mainland China.

The mainland is currently the only place to have a largely quarantine-free travel bubble with Macau.

DS Kim, an analyst at the JP Morgan banking group said in a note that dropping the need for the test certificate might be a “tiny step toward further easing” of restrictions on the market.

But he observed: “Since those entering Macau from China would already have negative test results anyway, the rule change is unlikely to affect inbound demand.”

But the change would probably “help revise demand” from “local” players, who had been “nearly absent since mid-July,” he added.

Brokerage Sanford C Bernstein said in a Wednesday memo that “Macau locals play is likely two to three per cent of gross gaming revenue in the market”.

Analysts Vitaly Umansky, Tianjiao Yu and Louis Li described dropping the COVID-19 test requirements for casino entry as a “positive step forward on the path to normalcy, but we do not see any border changes forthcoming in the immediate near-term.”

The local authorities had introduced the COVID-19 test certificate rule for casino entry with effect from July 15.

Factors affecting the decision to ease the COVID-19 test rule for casino access included, said the local government, the ongoing “strict compliance” with COVID-19 countermeasures on casino floors.

That included: self-certification of individuals’ health via the local online health code system in order to access casino floors; use of protective face masks; introduction of separating barriers between players; and social distance rules ensuring reasonable distancing between all those inside casinos.

William Brown

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